Art Agenda: Elspeth Pratt at Diaz Contemporary, Anitra Hamilton at Georgia Scherman and Lucilla Bonfanti at Pentimento
This installment of the Art Agenda features three shows that offer intriguing juxtapositions, surprising tactility and some subtle ideas.
Elspeth Pratt at Diaz Contemporary from March 26 - April 23.
Although some of them look rather like parodies of Anthony Caro sculptures growing out of a wall, but they aren't really. Well, maybe a little bit... Elspeth Pratt's new pieces on display at Diaz Contemporary seems possessed by that strange relationship between the playful and the austere. She pushes it in surprising directions though, with blatant brush work, apparent pencil marks and the occasional glob of glue at the seams. It sometimes comes across like what would happen if there was an "Art Attack" episode on abstract sculpture (and I mean that in the best possible way). While superficially minimalist, she subverts it at every turn with an obsessive tactility and giddy sense of materials. Using cardboard, wood, glue, vinyl and other materials, she concocts floating sketches conjuring the experience of incoherent spaces.
Anitra Hamilton at Georgia Scherman from March 17 - April 23.
Anitra Hamilton's show at Georgia Scherman is a kind of military fashion parade. It seems topical enough given the fact that the country has just launched itself into another war. Referencing couture boutique aesthetics, she plays on the thin line of pomp and parody. Hanging from the ceiling is a bright red coated made of 3000 poppies with black centres while the walls are dotted with trios of collaged military men in soft colored fatigues that look like they could have come out of the 1919 Eaton's catalogue, There's something deliberately exotic and slightly eerie about it all. This is buttressed by the large mirror shaped like a shield which forces the viewer to to try and figure out what they are doing in this rather slippery set-up.
Lucilla Bonfanti at Pentimento from March 17 - April 24.
Leslieville gallery Pentimento is hosting a showing of Lucilla Bonfanti's photography based pieces. Starting from sepia toned and black and white photos of her childhood, she blows them up, takes them apart and literally stitches them back together.
They're less collages than slightly eccentric forms of personal archeology. Rather than having the image sit as a simple font of memory, she cuts it up, creating variations, playing with gaps and producing holes and discontinuity. Some images are repeated numerous times in different sizes and within different schemes to question them more. As with Pratt, there is a very conscious sense of craftiness and tactility, something which is rare in the generally flat world of photographic work and leading to a far more nuanced appreciation of its possibilities.
Also this week:
There's a very enjoyable new show by Ian Carr Harris at Susan Hobbs featuring some of his most overtly literature inspired sculptural pieces. Owen Kydd has a new show running at Clark & Faria. Of course, on Thursday, the Images Festival starts up all over the city with plenty to see but the same day will also see the opening of "Sanaugaq: Things Made by Hand" a critical exploration of the evolution of the Inuit art industry at The University of Toronto Art Centre.
Images from the Hamilton show courtesy of Georgia Scherman.
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